Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) vowed Sunday to introduce new single-payer health care legislation — the same kind of socialized approach that failed in his home deep-blue state of Vermont.
CNN’s Jake Tapper asked Sanders, a self-described democratic-socialist, about the Republicans’ failure thus far to repeal and replace Obamacare. Tapper noted that earlier this month, Sanders said he would introduce a single-payer health care bill following the current health care debate.
Tapper asked Sanders if he will introduce single-payer, now that it appears as though Republicans will not repeal and replace Obamacare anytime in the near future. Sanders responded by saying, “absolutely, of course we are.”
“We’re just, you know, we’re tweaking the final points of the bill and we’re figuring out how we can mount a national campaign to bring people together,” Sanders said.
Tapper later went on to point out a very uncomfortable reality for the Vermont senator.
“Let’s talk about single-payer,” Tapper said, “because it was attempted in your home state of Vermont, and it didn’t work because they couldn’t get the funding, because it would be too expensive, the Democratic governor said.”
In December 2014, after more than a year of debating how to make single-payer work in the state, Vermont’s governor at the time, Peter Shumlin, a Democrat, admitted that paying for the socialized system “might hurt our economy,” according to Politico.
The single-payer framework in Vermont would have imposed a double digit payroll tax on small businesses, as well as a 9.5 percent premium assessment on individuals. Shumlin, who was not only the state’s Democratic governor, but also the chairman of the Democratic Governor’s Association, said this hike in taxes and premiums would be “detrimental to Vermonters.”
“These are simply not tax rates that I can responsibly support or urge the Legislature to pass. In my judgment, the potential economic disruption and risks would be too great to small businesses, working families and the state’s economy,” Shumlin said in December 2014, Politico reported.
“And, then recently,” Tapper continued Sunday, “it failed in California as well. Democrats again, not able to come up with a way to pay for it.”
Tapper was referring to the fact that the California state Senate earlier this year passed single-payer legislation. The bill then went to the State Assembly, but the Democratic speaker of the Assembly, Rep. Anthony Rendon, lambasted the Senate’s attempt as “woefully incomplete.”
“Even senators who voted for [the bill] noted there are potentially fatal flaws in the bill, including the fact that it does not address many serious issues, such as financing, delivery of care, cost controls or the realities of needed action by the Trump administration and voters to make [the bill] a genuine piece of legislation,” he said.
“In light of this,” Rendon said, “I have decided [the bill] will remain in the Assembly Rules Committee until further notice.”
— Melanie Mason (@melmason) June 23, 2017
“These are cobalt blue states, Vermont and California,” Tapper pointed out to Sanders, “where people wanted single-payer, and there were problems because it would cost too much.”
“How do you make it national if you can’t even get it in Vermont and California?” the CNN host asked.
Sanders appeared — and sounded — extremely uncomfortable after Tapper asked the question.
“Well it’s not a — no, no, no, no. Let’s — Jake — let’s be, let’s be careful about this. A single-payer health care system, in my view, and according to studies that I have seen, would save the average family significant sums of money,” Sanders replied.
“And what Republicans sometimes do is confuse the issue, and they say, ‘Well, you’re going to pay more in taxes.’ What they forget to tell you is that if you were a family of four now paying $15,000 or $20,000 per year in private health insurance, you’re not going to be paying that at all,” Sanders said, despite the fact that Democrats in his home state said three years ago that a single-payer system would be “detrimental” to the very people Sanders now says it would help.
Tapper pressed Sanders on this, asking him “why couldn’t this happen in Vermont then? Vermont would seem to be a perfect test case.”
Tapper’s response was that the issue is “difficult” politically, even though it’s Democrats, with whom Sanders caucuses in the U.S. Senate, who have so far joined with Republicans in rejecting the idea of single-payer. Sanders further suggested that the single-payer health care debate in California “is not over.”
“It passed the Senate, it’s now gone to the House, and that debate will continue,” Sanders said, without mentioning that the California Assembly democratic speaker, not too long ago, referred the bill to committee “until further notice” because of its “fatal flaws.”